Best Memoir – The Third Annual Karissa Reads Books Literary Awards

Hi there! Thanks for following along with my Third Annual Literary Awards! I’m having a lot of fun reading comments and hearing your thoughts. Today’s category started out as non-fiction but when I looked over what I’d read and what I’d enjoyed, it made more sense to make the category simply Memoirs. These are books that tell one person’s story in an intimate and informative manner.

Honourable Mention goes to…

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Ballantine Books, 2015)

I could hardly leave this classic off my list but it isn’t here simply because it’s a classic. It’s a classic because its praise is well-deserved. I read it in the summer when I began to make a greater effort to seek out diverse voices. Angelou’s writing is compelling and the stories she shares are heartbreaking, not least because they are still stories being experienced by so many.

When the Red Gates Opened by Dori Jones Yang (She Writes Press, 2020)

This book is probably a good example of my own personal bias in these literary awards that I made up and named after myself. A lot of what I enjoyed in Yang’s memoir is due to my own nostalgia and the glimpse it offers into my own past. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this book and I think it has plenty of merit on its own, even to the reader unfamiliar with Hong Kong in the 1980s.

They Said This Would Be Fun by Eternity Martis (McClelland & Stewart, 2020)

While I don’t know that I exactly enjoyed this memoir, it was extremely compelling. It made me uncomfortable at many points and often in a way that reminded me of my own privilege. It’s a book I’ve recommended several times since and Martis’ is an important voice in Canadian lit.

And the Winner is:

100 Times: A Memoir of Sexism by Chavisa Woods (Seven Stories Press, 2019)

I still have my copy of this book on my shelf, with all my post-its in it. Woods relates 100 experiences with sexism, starting at the age of 5. Through these 100 times, Woods creates a broad-ranging portrayal of life as a woman in the 21st century. There are violent assaults, yes, but many of the incidents are relatively small (or we think they’re small because we’re so used to them). Added up though, we see the exhaustion, the fear, and the doubt of one woman, reflecting back the experiences of so many women. I really think this is a book that so many people should read.

See you back on Monday for Best Fiction!

15 thoughts on “Best Memoir – The Third Annual Karissa Reads Books Literary Awards”

  1. I still need to read Chavisa Woods’s book!! I’m going to find it right now while I’m thinking of it. Her collection Love Does Not Make Me Gentle or Kind was one of the first books I reviewed back when I started Grab the Lapels in 2013.

    1. I put it on my schedule for January. I started listening to an audiobook of her collection Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country: and Other Stories just this morning.

  2. Not a category that I read much of, although I have I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings lingering somewhere in the TBR. Looking forward to the Best Fiction Award… 😀

    1. This list represents almost half of the memoirs I read this year so it’s not a huge category for me either but I have been reading more memoirs in recent years and enjoying them.

  3. Ooh, I picked up a copy of Woods’ book earlier this year after seeing your review, and seeing it at the top of your memoirs list makes me even more excited to get to it!

  4. I actually am really beginning to enjoy memoirs as one of my favourite things to read, especially the older I get. I just find it so valuable to really place yourself in someone else’s shoes. All the books you listed here seem worthwhile and good reads in their own right!

    1. I think I’m similar in that I never used to read much non-fiction but have increased in recent years. There are a lot of good memoirs being written now!

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